'Friday of Victory and Continuity' calls for revolutionary demands to be heeded

Salma Shukrallah, Friday 18 Feb 2011

Activists reunite in Tahrir Square to call for an end to state of emergency and the release of all political prisoners

Tahrir square
Thousands pray during Friday prayers Tahrir square in Cairo (Photo: AP)

Thousands gather in Tahrir Square for the ‘Friday of Victory and Continuity’ not only to celebrate but to demand an end to emergency law and the immediate release of all political prisoners.

Under the emergency laws, more than ten thousand prisoners have been detained in Egyptian prisons – some for years now – without being legally charged. The prisons include not only Egyptians but also thousands of Palestinians, arrested over the years, especially since the siege on Gaza began.

About eight Palestinian prisoners have escaped Egypt’s Abu Zaabal prison during the Egyptian uprising, according to AFP.  However, according to Haitham Mohamadein, lawyer at the Nadim Centre, thousands of Palestinians are detained under the emergency law at Al-Azouly prison in Ismailia.

“There are more than ten thousand prisoners that have been detained under the emergency law in Egypt without facing any legal charges, both Egyptians and non-Egyptians. Prisons where they are detained include Burg Al-Arab, Al-Wady Al-Gadeed, Al-Tour and Tora. Every time a court decision is issued for the release of any of these prisoners, State Security immediately issues a decision of re-arrest using the emergency law and often harasses the prisoner for taking the case to court”, says Mohamadein.

According to Mohamadein, if the state of emergency ends the prisoners should be immediately released.

The thousands of protestors gathered at Tahrir Square consequently highlight the importance of ending the emergency law -- making it one of the first demands of the revolution.

Internet activists are frequently stressing on Facebook and Twitter that the revolution has not ended but rather just begun.

“The people have not yet removed the regime; the old government is still ruling; the constitutional amendments are only limited to those requested by the toppled president; the emergency law is still in use; the political prisoners remain detained; let us not give the regime a chance to regain power: go to Tahrir tomorrow to demand what remains from our requests”, says a Facebook status mobilising for the ‘Friday of Victory and Continuity’.

Gigi Ibrahim, an activist who took part in the revolution since 25 January, says that this Friday’s “million person demonstration” is organised with the aim to accomplish the revolution’s main demands which have, as yet, not been heeded.

“We demand the release of all political prisoners, especially those that have been detained since the 25th of January and have not yet been released. Some people are still missing since the 25th of January and their whereabouts are unknown. More importantly we want an end to the emergency law…Khaled Saeed died because of the emergency law. We also want the old government to resign. These are the main demands of the revolution that have not yet been met”, Ibrahim says.  

Activists and rights groups have long campaigned for ending the 29 year old state of emergency, most recently renewed in May 2010, arguing that it has facilitated violations of rights abuses.

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